Samsung is currently developing hologram panel technologies for mobile devices. Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji

Looks like Samsung is way ahead when it comes to planning what’s next for its mobile device business. A new report fresh from South Korea is apparently shedding light on the company’s special project that involves the creation of hologram panel technologies for mobile devices. Could this mean we are finally getting a smartphone with hologram technology really soon?

Korea Herald reported Tuesday about Samsung Display’s work on hologram panel technologies. The ambitious work actually started in 2015 under Korea’s national future technologies project, and it’s not just Samsung that’s invested in manufacturing mobile devices with hologram technologies. Its neighboring rival, LG, is also working on hologram technologies in preparation for the future.

According to the report, if Samsung’s technology is perfected, the holographic images for mobile devices would have about four times more pixels than what the Samsung Galaxy Note 8 is currently sporting. The flagship phablet has 570 pixels per inch, so this means the holographic images would be much better and cleaner. This image quality is of course necessary for hologram images are displayed in the air.

There is a limit to the size of the holographic image than can be projected by the mobile device though. An official at the Giga Korea Foundation said, “The hologram technology for mobile devices, once developed, can display 5-inch 3-D holographic images in the air.” The same official then revealed that “the pilot video of the super high-definition panels will possibly be made in late 2019 for the first time in the world.”

Unfortunately, consumers shouldn’t expect to see Samsung releasing a hologram phone or any hologram-powered mobile device for that matter next year. Industry sources said that there are technical challenges that should be addressed first prior the commercial launch of a mobile device with holographic technology. These challenges pertain to mass production issues and the need to integrate the panels with communication modules.

It’s very likely that Samsung would introduce a head-mounted display with hologram technologies first before commercially releasing a hologram-projecting smartphone. For one thing, Samsung’s central research arm, Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology, is already developing a head-mounted display with hologram technologies at present.

“Samsung’s hologram technology for a head-mounted display has almost completed. But the firm is now weighing whether it is the right time to unveil it in the market for profitable returns,” a source with knowledge on the matter disclosed to the Korean publication.

Both Samsung Display and LG Display have confirmed that they are working on hologram technologies. However, they also declined to divulge specific details about their projects, saying that such advanced technology is still in the distant future.

LG Display appears to be more focused on creating a hologram technology for tabletop displays. In fact, the company joined Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute’s “digital holographic tabletop display” project. The project commenced in 2013 with the aim of producing a tabletop display that’s capable of projecting a colored 4.5-inch digital hologram, which can be viewed in all angles. Engadget says this makes the technology a true hologram and not just a pseudo-hologram that utilizes 3D effects and 2D images.

Electronics and Telecommunications Research Institute senior researcher Park Min-sik said the technology will be used for exhibitions in museums and video conference. The technology will be completed early next year, but its commercial launch would most likely happen in 2021.